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Halal Holiday Hackers #8 Zara Choudhary

One of the things that inspired us to start the Halal Holiday Hackers series was a blog featured on a website called Sacred Footsteps. Written by Zara Choudhary, an Islamic Art and Archaeology graduate from SOAS, the post listed a collection of some of her favourite travel bloggers – many of whom we’ve now hyped up on Ummahsonic.

Zara, unsurprisingly, is an excellent travel blogger herself, even serving as an editor on Sacred Footsteps. As you can no doubt glean from the name, the site focuses on travel from the perspective of faith and spirituality.

One of our favourite blogs sees Zara travel to the foot of Adam’s Peak, a mountain in Sri Lanka where, at the summit, sits an indentation that people of numerous faiths believe to be a footprint, your religion determining the figure you consider it to belong to.

#AdamsPeak towering in the background #SriPada #SriLanka

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As Zara describes:

‘For Buddhists, who boast a vast tradition of pilgrimage and ritual associated with the site, the ‘footprint’ belongs to Buddha. For Hindus it is that of Shiva; for Christians, the Apostle St. Thomas. For Muslims, there is a historical tradition that suggests that it is the footprint of the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him), marking the spot on which he landed after expulsion from paradise.’

With regard to Prophet Adam (pbuh), Zara adds:

‘There is no suggestion, however, that this belief is supported by authentic sources in the Islamic tradition. What seems clear, is that Muslims have, in some capacity or other, been visiting the site from at least the thirteenth century onwards.’

A #mandarinduck – the first time I think I’ve ever seen one

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Whatever the case may be, it’s incredible to learn of a pocket of land with so many ties to religious history. Ultimately, it shows the lines of different faiths so often overlap. Throughout her trip, Zara also encounters moment after moment of friendship and kindness, which is always something we want to see.

And like any blogger worth the laptop they type their experiences on, Zara can come through with a solid listicle. Her blog, Six Reasons to Visit Zanzibar, is a particular highlight, walking us through the archipelago’s natural wonders (the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, dolphin watching), as well as its architecture, colonial past, and dark experiences of slavery.

Throwback to this time last year when I visited #Zanzibar. This small mosque in the village of #Matemwe was surrounded by the most basic of housing- some were simply huts made of wood and palm leaves, others were brick structures with tin roofs, probably containing little more than a single room. Young children ran around playing in the sand, while others played football with bare feet. In spite of the obvious poverty, to the left of the mosque was the most incredible coastline, with clear blue sea and white sand. At tahajjad time, we could hear beautiful recitation of the #Quran emanating from the minaret of the mosque. Having seen the poverty in which people were living, I felt both in awe of them and humbled, taking this as a reminder for myself to always be thankful to #God in every circumstance. #SacredFootsteps #travel #muslimtraveler #halaltravel #muslims #spiritual #islam #mosque #eastafrica #africa

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As ever, Zara frames her insights around faith, pointing out Zanzibar’s Islamic history and the fact it is an almost entirely Muslim region, meaning halal food is easy to come by.

All of Zara’s writing is engaging and informative. Her love of travel and dedication to faith complement each other perfectly, making her efforts on Sacred Footsteps really special.

And yeah we’ve bashed some of her Instagram posts throughout this blog.

Keep up with Zara’s work here and don’t forget to follow her on Instagram.

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